Moxie is often associated with the birthplace of its inventor, Maine. It was designated as the official state soft drink of Maine
on May 10, 2005. Every summer, all things Moxie are celebrated at the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine.
There is a Moxie museum in Union, Maine (birthplace of Dr. Augustin Thompson) which, among other memorabilia, houses a 30 foot-tall wooden Moxie bottle once used as a soda stand. This is an annex to the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage located at the Union Fairgrounds.
People from away may not have heard of it, but Moxie was invented 130 years ago in Maine and has been in stores ever since and is now found only in Massachusetts and northern New England. The secret to its unique taste is gentian root.
Moxie was invented in 1884, making it the oldest soft drink one can still buy in America. Made only in Maine, from the waters of Lake Moxie, it has developed the catch phrase "Moxie Makes Mainers Mighty", since, like most old tonics, it was originally marketed as an elixir, mostly because it is made from gentian root.
It was concocted in the 1870s when Dr. Augustin
Thompson of Union patented a nostrum that claimed to cure almost any ill, including loss of manhood, "paralysis, and softening of the brain," says
an online Moxie publication.
Moxie was heavily promoted through the media of the day, including sheet music, toys and advertising. The original Moxie outsold Coca-Cola in the early 1900s.
The beverage, which is the oldest continually sold soda, is now owned by an Atlanta-based company and bottled in New Hampshire, but the affection for it continues in Maine.
By the early 20th century, the "Nerve Food" was carbonated, brilliantly merchandised, and became a household word. In spite of the claims
restrictions placed on Moxie by the Food & Drug Act, many ads from this explosive growth period touted the "healthful" and alleged medicinal
benefits of the tonic. In other words Quacks and Experts touting a snake oil patent compound! But... hey.... all those other companies of the time
were doing the same thing.
Bottlers were opened all over the country. Frank Archer, who started with the company as a clerk, continued to brilliantly promote Moxie using every promotional gimmick known at the time. In the "heyday" the beverage was strongly associated with amusement parks, dance halls, and east coast resorts. These were places synonymous with good times, and the "vigorous" life that drinking Moxie was supposed to sustain. The horse drawn Moxie Bottle Wagons were a common scene at these locations. In the twenties and thirties, these were replaced by the famous Horsemobiles which could be seen at resorts, parades, civic events, and fairs. Pictured below is a September 1889 patent drawing for the "bottle" wagon.
The law designating the drink, Moxie, as the official Maine state soft drink is found in then Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 9, Subchapter 1, Section 224.
Title 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS
Chapter 9: SEAL, MOTTO, EMBLEMS AND FLAGS
Subchapter 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS
§224. State soft drink
Moxie, a registered trademarked soft drink invented by Maine-born Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union that symbolizes spirit and courage, is the official state soft drink. [2005, c. 136, §1 (NEW).]
2005, c. 136, §1 (NEW).